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10/30/2013

Corrections Donates Confiscated Cell Phones to Domestic Violence Victims

News for Immediate Release

Oct. 30, 2013

Corrections Donates Confiscated Cell Phones to Domestic Violence Victims

Harrisburg – The Department of Corrections (DOC) today donated 1,100 cell phones to the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The phones were confiscated from residents of the DOC’s community corrections centers. 

“We are pleased to be able to make this first donation during Domestic Violence Awareness Month and will continue future cell phone donations indefinitely,” Secretary John Wetzel said.  “It is only appropriate that, if a parolee can’t follow the rules with respect to possessing a cell phone in one of our centers, we take that phone and give it to someone who needs it for their protection.”

“We believe in an approach that is victim-centric,” Gov. Tom Corbett said of today’s donation.  “A successful corrections system means people getting out of our facilities that are less likely to commit a crime, thereby reducing the number of victims.  This unique opportunity allows us to directly have a positive impact on victims, helping to make survivors of domestic violence safer.”

Employees at the Community Corrections Centers (CCCs) collect approximately 100 phones each month. Once collected, the phones are refurbished by HopeLine By Verizon at no cost to either the Department of Corrections (DOC) or to the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence (PCADV).

“This is a great reuse of a significant number of cell phones that will help make domestic violence victims safer by giving them a way to call for help when they need it. We’re grateful that the DOC thought of us, and we look forward to a continuing partnership,” PCADV Executive Director Peg Dierkers said.

HopeLine By Verizon recycles no-longer-used wireless phones, batteries and equipment in any condition from any manufacturer or service provider. The proceeds provide cash grants to domestic violence programs and wireless phones and free airtime to survivors to call for help in emergencies.

Since 2001, HopeLine By Verizon has donated more than $1 million to PCADV’s network of 60 community-based programs and thousands of cell phones to the victims they serve.

The DOC changed its CCC cell phone rule in December 2012 and now permits residents to possess and use cell phones. Residents must follow specific rules about phones, including that phones may not have a camera or recording capabilities.

All cell phones must be approved by and registered with center staff.  Those that are not approved and/or registered, or that have a camera or recording capabilities, are confiscated.

“We understand that in today’s world, having a cell phone is important for CCC residents who are working to return home successfully after incarceration,” Wetzel said. “Having a phone helps the resident apply for jobs and to schedule and confirm their work schedules. But the residents also know that in order to have a cell phone they are required to be responsible and accountable.’’

The DOC operates 15 community corrections centers and also contracts with approximately 50 additional centers. The phones were confiscated from all centers.

The public can donate their old cell phones by taking them to any Verizon Wireless store and dropping them in the HopeLine from Verizon box.

Media contact: Susan McNaughton, 717-728-4025

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